Ox-tale super

September 21, 2011

Having missed the opportunity to ensnare London or 26may to write a match report I’m shamelessly using their comments from after the game and adding a few of my own.

Like many I was looking forward to seeing Oxlade-Chamberlain, Park and Ryo in addition to other well-known young guns show off their silky skills. Micky had been banging on about giving Mert and Kos some more playing time together which I also felt was a good idea but clearly Arsène didn’t as he started with Miguel and Djourou – as captain – as the centre-back pairing.

The joy of Carling Cup teams in the past has partly been the surprise at how well a team of youngsters were able to perform in front of an Emirates crowd. I was there the night Nik and Carlos set the pitch alight with their fabulous link up play that put Sheffield United to the sword in the same round in 2008 but I quickly realised that most of this team hadn’t had very much playing time together and so the frailties of the first team were also in evidence.

On reflection, AW missed a good opportunity to bed Mertesacker and Koscielny as a partnership before the coming fixtures. I was disappointed that Djourou was leaden footed for the Shrewsbury goal, he didn’t even jump and needs more time to get his head back together before getting in the first team. I’m willing to listen to other’s thoughts of what Chamakh brought to the team last night, he looked out of his depth to me and if he’s our answer to when van Persie next gets an injury we’re in trouble.

London’s post match comment

Ladies and gentleman

Be in no doubt, we have another star in the wings, Oxo was excitement personified. Not ready for a starting place in the first team but will be making more and more cameo performances as the season progresses. Theo can learn a lot from this young man, yes that is right. The Ox’s ability to operate in tight corners and create chances for others is second to no one in the UK that I can think of right now, there is an Argentinean dwarf overseas but we will cross that bridge when we come to it.

Other thoughts: Park is nowhere near ready for first team duty neither is Ryo but we probably all knew that one already.

Chamakh got better as the game went on but he was pants to begin with; nevertheless, I still say he has a role to play at the end of a game when we need to change to 4.4.2 in order to add more aerial threat in an attempt to get a winner or such like.

Benayoun: will someone give that man a decent meal, his mother’s chicken soup is just not doing the trick, feed the poor boy. Still, he did just fine tonight, I like the way he puts serious pressure on Ramsey for a first team place.

Gibbs was good, Jenkinson is getting better although just how far he can go, I am not so sure. Frimpong was calmer which I liked.

Djourou arrived on a horse wearing a ten gallon hat and proceeded to give a cowboy performance at defending.

By contrast Miguel was as slick as a cat on Vaseline.

Oh well, that was the best £20 I have spent in a while, naturally I joined in whole heartedly in singing:

One Arsene Wenger, there’s only one Arsene Wenger.

Trolls be gone lol

Post match comments from 26may1989

On the train home, I was thinking about what I take from this evening’s game. The fact that London has already covered many of the points I wanted to make in his 10:47pm post (darn you, London), isn’t going to get in my way.

What I learnt:

1. A 40,000 crowd at the Emeratess isn’t so bad after all, especially when so few of the whiners from the regulars aren’t there. The atmosphere was surprisingly supportive – no-one was impressed when Djourou gifted a goal to a side three divisions below us, but there wasn’t any panic and the fans remained pretty supportive.

2. Oxlade-Chamberlain is tops; both in terms of quality and appetite. Shooting, dribbling, crossing and passing, all were on display tonight. If anyone can’t see the potential in this player, their comments don’t deserve to be taken seriously. He oozes class, and £12m already looks like a bargain price to me, even before he’s faced top level opposition.

3. Coquelin’s distribution was a bit wayward at points but he grew into the game and was fantastic by the second half.

4. Miquel was tremendous.

5. Djourou is still very much in the doldrums with zero confidence.  Sorry, but he needs to be kept away from the first team.

6. Gibbs had a  good and very mature game – he was willing to take on leadership in a very young side.

7. Park was worryingly nervous for much of the fist half but with one Henry-esque cut-in and shot he found himself and did much better after that.

8. Ozyakup was a slick sub – his passing game was very nice.

9. Wenger is determined not to be shaken by the current crisis – he could have played a senior side tonight, but he stuck to his (young) guns instead.

10. The team out tonight, like the first team at Ewood Park, began the game not knowing each other very well. We’re in pre-season and the Wenger Out brigade would do well to bear that in mind. Sack in haste, repent at leisure.

11. Shrewsbury were dangerous for much of the first half, and could (should?) have scored another goal. They may not be a fashionable side, but there’s quality there, especially the two CBs. But they used up so much of their energy that they began to tire before half-time. Their keeper did help us though.

All in all, this evening was more positive than it was negative. Before the game, I would have said the same as Sharkey, that conceding even one goal and not absolutely slaughtering such lowly opposition would mean the evening would be a failure. But the youngsters out there this evening played the second half with a refreshing level of enjoyment and desire – it might have only finished 3-1 but it was still a pretty good performance from the kids and their minders.

It was a lovely prematch this evening, meeting up with Peaches, Evonne and Micky was great. Bit disconcerting being at The Tavern for prematch drinks and being able to get served at the bar immediately.


Shrewsbury, Carling Cup and Evolutionary Synthesis at the Grove

September 20, 2011

What could be better than a chance to see our new players added to a sprinkling of youth play a decent footballing side from a lower division in a Cup game? Ok, you are right, lots of things ….. but such a spectacle is interesting, isn’t it? I know that if I had the opportunity I would be meeting up with the splendid AA possee prior to cheering my team to victory. And yet, I expect a low attendance, possibly the lowest ever at the Grove; after all, the vibe around the club is very negative, the season ticket holders have to buy their tickets, and some fans think paying to see the B team is unacceptable (however cheap the seats).

I expect a very entertaining game. There is the opportunity to see the first appearance at the Grove of Park Young and the Ox and  Ryo, the chance to see some goals, and  hopefully the wonder of our other Pole in Goal.

You will not be surprised to read that I know next to nothing about Shrewsbury. They play in Div 2, they have won 6 out of their last 8 games, they will be without their CB pairing and possibly their captain, Ian Sharps, and “Marvellous” Marvin Morgan is the main striker. They are managed by Graham Turner and their home ground used to be Gay Meadows (titter you not) but is now Greenhous Meadow.

Our team:

Fabianski

Jenkinson   Mertesacker  Koscielny   Santos

Frimpong  Coquelin   Benayoun

Ox  Chamakh  Park

I would not be surprised to see Park play out left and Chamakh start upfront, he needs games and this could be ideal for him, in which case, Ryo will come on at 60 mins. I would like to see the CB’s who played at Ewood get another game – they really need as much playing time as possible what with the loss of TV for a couple of months.

Shrewsbury is the birthplace of Charles Darwin (1809-1882),  author of  Origin of the Species in which he espoused the then revolutionary theory of  natural selection, an ideology he later applied to human evolution. Such theory is fitting to the development of this Arsenal team (I think)

For many seasons the CC was a fun diversion from the serious business of the PL and CL and I look forward to a return to this attitude tonight.  Like many I maintain the debacle of losing to relegation fodder at Wembley had a hugely damaging effect upon the remainder of our campaigns, I know others disagree but in my opinion the CC is best left to our reserves –  thankfully our reserves are very good.

COYRRG

Big Raddy


What should Arsenal fans realistically expect us to achieve next season?

May 30, 2011

Today is going to be a very slow news day on the blogosphere. The transfer rumours are only just gaining momentum and most expect Arsenal to either take second pickings behind the big spenders or to sign players who would not be targets for other top clubs.

Following on from yesterday’s debate, I thought it would be interesting to have a benchmark at this point to refer back to at the end of the summer, or at the same time next season.

The question I would ask is…. “What should Arsenal fans realistically expect us to achieve next season?”

Our happiness or disappointment is simply a measure of how the outcome compares to our own individual expectation.

For Arsenal to have progressed next year I would expect the following:

1. Top 3 in the Premiership

2. Top of our group in the CL and reach the quarter finals

3. To win a cup competition if we choose to put out our strongest side

4. To have shored up the defence

5. To have a strong finish to the season

These are just talking points, but it would be interesting to see how the expectations of the ‘cup half full’ers’ compare to those branded as being half empty. Paradoxically, the level of expectation is likely to be inversely proportional to the level of optimism.

What would be the least you would be happy with as an Arsenal fan at this time next year?


Did chasing tin cost us silver?

May 13, 2011

Written by GoonerinExile

We all know hindsight is a wonderful thing, but the depressing end to this season has led to many fans looking back to see what went wrong, and exploring theories for the pitiful end of season run in. We have heard people accusing Arsene and the team of lacking ambition, we have heard the players are bottlers, that the team is missing several key ingredients. I place my blame elsewhere, the pursuit of a worthless trophy.

I was never sure about going all out for the Carling Cup. During the Wenger years I have enjoyed seeing the potential stars of our future (with some assistance of a couple of senior pros) beating established teams. The delight of giving Spurs a whipping in the third round of the cup with a mixture of youth and experience would have done for me this year, bigger fish to fry for the team, but its always good to put those down the road in their place.

Unfortunately this season Wenger changed tack and appeared to give in to the demand for a trophy. He fielded more first teamers than normal through the rounds to ensure progression, four started against Spurs, three against Newcastle, five against Wigan, seven in the first leg against Ipswich, nine in the second leg, and ten in the final (which would have been eleven if Cesc had not been injured against Stoke).

Whilst this approach didn’t affect the results immediately surrounding the cup games it was adding 90 minutes football to legs which were set to get wearier. It also meant that Arsene needed to field weakened sides in the latter stages of the Champions League Group Stage to keep legs fresh when the Christmas fixture pile up approached and the team was playing every three or four days.

The killer blow to our season came when the team were riding high, unbeaten in the League since the 14 December, just beaten the best team in the world in the home leg of the Champions League Knock Out stages, the future was very bright and everyone was confident about the trophies the season would hold for us.

I am sorry to remind us all of the result and more regrettably the way we conceded that second goal, but that loss in that final killed our season. Since that hateful day in February we have won three of twelve games in all competitions (Leyton Orient (replay), Blackpool and Manchester United).

Three wins in twelve games!

Can anyone else remember a time when that has happened under Wenger, or any other manager?

The Carling Cup final was meant to provide our springboard to success, but unfortunately it became a dead weight around the necks of our players. Its as if they were convinced they were not winners that day, that somehow they didn’t deserve it, that they were too soft and could not compete when it mattered. They have failed to lift themselves from that disappointment.

Even if we had won the Carling Cup I don’t think it would have pacified the more disgruntled fans without additional silverware on top. There would still be fans calling for Arsene’s head describing the Carling Cup as Mickey Mouse, the most fervent of the Arsene out lobbyists would be calling for his head if we won the league as they would say that it was in spite of him, or because the league has weakened.

We have again made the Champions League and we will be back again to have another run at the Premier League. I ask fans to seriously consider whether we need to chase the Carling Cup, and maybe even the FA Cup. It is unimportant, it is for the teams without a chance of winning anything else. Let Arsene play the squad players and the youth, don’t expect the star names to come out to play, these non squad and youth players need the game time and the experience.

Lets forget the tin next year and lets concentrate on the big stuff, the silverware we would all love to see return to the home of football.


Barry Ferguson: League Cup Winner and Squalid Human Being

March 1, 2011

Congratulations to Birmingham on winning the Carling Cup final. You weren’t dirty, you played the best game you could and you got the breaks.

As an Arsenal fan I’m not going to stand here and say you didn’t deserve it, because any team that wins a cup final deserves it, however the thing pans out.

And for the most part, from manager down to backroom staff, you were gracious winners. But not all of you. Which brings me to Barry Ferguson.

If there is karma in this world (and I firmly believe there is) then Barry has got it coming to him big time. And you know what? I suspect Birmingham City will suffer along with Bazza.

When Laurent Koscielny made a horrible, suicidal mistake in the 89th minute of Sunday’s final, leaving Obafemi Martins with a tap-in for the winner, most Birmingham players had nothing in their minds but joy at having scored the likely winner.

Not so Barry Ferguson. His first thought was not to be with his cohorts, it was not to celebrate an imminent trophy win. His first thought was to abuse a distraught fellow professional.

As he ran past a stricken Koscielny he smashed his hand down on our defender’s head in a gesture that was cowardly and unmanly. I remember at the time – in the stadium – thinking how appalling that gesture was. Then when I saw it on TV I was even more angry about it.

Pat-gate: Ferguson is attracting the ire of Arsenal fans, and now players, for patting Koscielny on the head (Reuters)

And here’s where karma comes in.

I hereby call on all the Gods. I call on Jehovah, Allah and Bhagwaan. I call on Yahweh, Satnam, Buddha and Odin. I call on Zeus, Elohim and Tenrikyo: give back unto Barry Ferguson the misfortune he gave out to Laurent Koscielny, but give it back three times three times.

That is my curse on Barry Ferguson.

And here’s how it will come to pass: when Birmingham are fighting for Premier League survival in the final game of the season, it will be Ferguson’s mistake that will cost them the points they need for survival. It may be an own goal, it may be a misplaced back pass or just a piece of really crap play that leads to an opposition goal, but karma is heading for Barry Ferguson and it’s driving an Eddie Stobart 18-wheeler with no hydraulics left in the brakes.

And after Bazza’s moment of pain, an opposition player will run past and ruffle his hair. They won’t do a full-on aggressive slap on the head, because not many professionals are sufficiently cnutish to do that (Bazza excepted). But the point will be made.

Do you think I’m going over the top? Am I starting to make you feel sorry for little Bazza? Well fight that urge.

Remember, this is the former Glasgow Rangers scumbag who was not averse to getting into bar brawls after Old Firm derbies.

He is the Scotland international who was stripped of his international captaincy and his place in the national squad after making obscene gestures from the stands during Scotland’s easy win over little Iceland.

Just look at the gesture.

It’s something you’d expect your 13-year-old son to do, not a 31-year-old captain of a national team, as Ferguson was at the time.

But Scotland were easily beating Iceland at that moment, so it was perfect territory for the small town bully. Just like running past a heartbroken player in the last minute of a cup final, and smacking him as hard as you can over the head.

Barry Ferguson, you pusillanimous, spleeny, milk-livered idiot. You pribbling, crook-pated dewberry, you qualling dizzy-eyed joithead: your doom awaits you.

Soon may it come.

RockyLives



A moment of madness cost us some silverware

February 28, 2011

Written by GoonerinExile

I was at Wembley as a 12 year old in 1988 and I remember that defeat clearly, Nigel Winterburn missing a penalty to put us 3-1 ahead, Tony Adams bringing down Mark Stein in the 90th minute to concede the free kick that his brother Brian scored from and won the cup for Luton. 14 years later Tony Adams retired an Arsenal legend, 12 years later Nigel Winterburn left the club as one of the best left backs we had ever seen.

Why do I mention this, well we need to remember this when the media scrum gathers to tell us yet again that our defence is weak and we have a lack of spine within the squad. Yesterday Wojciech Szczesny and Laurent Koscielny combined to gift Birmingham the winner in the 89th minute. We know they are not weak we know they are capable of brilliance, only a week and a half ago Koscielny was probably our best player against Barca, Szczesny has filled us all with confidence for his persona and his command of the area. Yesterday unfortunately a blip, it just so happened, as so often a mistake does for defenders and keepers, to lead to a goal to the opposition. It was doubly unfortunate that it happened in a cup final and ultimately cost us the game. As it happened I looked on in horror, for anyone else the ball would have probably bounced back on to Koscielny and out for a corner, but for us it just rolled into Martins path, who had to do nothing more than roll the ball into the empty net.

We have probably all accepted now that Arsene Wenger will only ever concentrate on sending his team out the way he wants them to play football, he does not look at the opposition and consider sending out his team to counter their strengths, he wants them to worry about our strengths. We had all hoped that we would start with Nicklas Bendtner in the side to counter the effect of the height of Birmingham at set pieces, that we didn’t was an even bigger concern when Zigic’s name was on the team sheet as a starter, clearly from open play Bendtner would not have helped but he would have helped us deal with the threat created from set pieces. But this was not to be we would have to outplay Birmingham to win the game and hope that our defence could stand strong against the aerial bombardment.

As it was after a bright start from Birmingham and a slack opening from Arsenal the team were lucky not to be down to 10 men when Bowyer was wrongly given offside and Szczesny brought him down in the area. After that initial scare the team started to get into the game, controlling possession, albeit with little end product, but that was difficult against a well organised, solid and spirited Birmingham defence. This is where the brain and guile of Cesc gives the team something different, the ability to pick open defences with a sublime pass or two, not that we didn’t create a couple of chances in this period. Nasri playing in Arshavin a skilful turn later and he had  shot at goal saved by Foster.

Inexplicably Arsenal began to misplace passes, from one incident Sagna trying to find Wilshere missed him by about five feet and allowed Zigic to gain possession, the resultant ball into the box forced Koscielny to head the ball out for a corner. From the corner the ball was headed towards goal by Roger Johnson, and Zigic flicked the ball past an onrushing Szczesny.

Minutes later it could have been much much worse, when Gardner burst through the midfield and passed to Zigic, Szczesny spread himself well to prevent a second Birmingham goal and a mountain to climb.

As it was Arsenal had still failed to really impose themselves on the game, it took a storming run from Wilshere to stir the team, after some brief interplay he smashed a shot against the crossbar, with the bar still rattling the ball made its way to out little Russian who after some nimble footwork delivered an inch perfect cross for Van Persie to volley home with his right foot. However the delight turned to immediate concern for us sitting at home who watched as Van Persie’s celebration was curtailed by an injury to his knee.

Arsenal ended the half applying the pressure and searching for a second goal to take us into the lead. The team started the second half in a similar vain but the team were consistently thwarted by Ben Foster who had a stormer in the Birmingham goal when the defence had been breached. Despite the pressure the game was on a knife edge knowing that any breakaway from Birmingham could lead to a goal as Arsenal committed more men forward in search of an elusive winner. So it nearly did when Fahey’s effort beat Szcezney and rebounded of the post.

On 67 minutes it appeared that Robin van Persie could no longer continue, and so it was that Nicklas Bendtner was introduced to the attack. At this time Roger Johnson was showing signs of injury, was he removed as a precaution, no chance he played through it, and just once I would like to see the same from our players, maybe Robin has suffered too  many injuries to risk losing him for the rest of the season, but this was the most important game at the time, nothing else mattered, Birmingham have a relegation battle to fight but they didn’t pull off Johnson, nor did he want to come off.

Something else changed at this point for once Arsenal were shooting from outside the area form all angles, Samir Nasri, Rosicky and Wilshere all had efforts from distance, either blocked by defenders or Foster. Wenger sent on Chamakh for Arshavin, as if putting as many “strikers” as possible would bring us a goal by willpower alone. I thought Bendtner had done well when he came on, but to see him removed from the centre forward position after only ten minutes was reorganisation we didn’t need. With Cesc and Walcott injured there was no other attacking option, but clearly Wenger could have chosen any other player to withdraw, perhaps looking to the next game again?

Of all chances the one that could have won the game fell to Rosicky, the ball played to him by Bendtner he had only to scoop the ball past Foster but inconceivably attempted a back heel from more than 6 yards out with defenders on the line this seemed a very strange decision for one with such experience and technical ability. This is perhaps Rosickys biggest failure, he seems to want to do the difficult things, look for the difficult passes, look for the flicks, as a result he is more wasteful in possession than a man 11 years his junior who 95% of the time finds a teammate with his passes, beats men at will, and runs into space, and is constantly available for his team mates, that man of course is Jack Wilshere, more of him later.

Arsenal had 20 efforts on goal according to BBC stats, 12 on target, Birmingham had 11, unfortunately not one of our chances was as simple as the one presented to Martins in the 89th minute the chance that sent the blue half of Birmingham into delirium, and the chance that sent the red half of North London searching for alcohol and flak jackets.

56% of possession 20 attempts on goal, six corners, we pressed and pressed but Birmingham held firm. The BBC commentary team said that the better team won, how the man of the match was Ben Foster then I have no idea, surely he would not have had much to do if they were indeed the better team. Take nothing away from Birmingham they defended well, and always looked threatening on the breakaway, in a cup final there can only be one winner, we have been there before and we will be there again. But in between now and the next final defeat there might also be some wins, there definitely have been since our defeat to Luton in 1988.

As disappointing as the goal was there were other concerns for me, the game seemed to pass Song by, never bossing midfield as we would expect, Robin Van Persie did not see  great deal of the ball in the build up play, hindered by Rosicky’s approach of looking for a difficult ball. The team needed to press high up the pitch to stop the easy get out ball to Zigic, the desire to do so wasn’t there, we were second to the knockdowns in out half of the pitch which enabled Birmingham to build pressure which could easily have been avoided. Our best players on the day were Nasri and Wilshere.

I have heard bottlers mentioned already by some of our own fans on this very forum, to bottle the game would have been to not play to our strengths to not play with our normal conviction, to appear to be waiting to lose, as we have done against Chelsea, and Man Utd in the past, that wasn’t the issue today, the team played, they pressed, they tried but unfortunately a moment of madness cost us some silverware.

I’m not going to put in any player ratings today, I think there is no point adding insult to injury. This week we must be strong together we must support our team, for those who couldn’t be bothered to hang around in Wembley when Birmingham scored please hand back in your Season Tickets that is not support, I don’t know what it is but it definitely isn’t support. Support when you win and when you lose, the team need support and positive energy. Birmingham fans waited 48 years for this success, but I guarantee of they’d lost they would have still been in the ground at the final whistle, and applauded their teams efforts. The Arsenal end was empty before the team had even been up to collect their runners up medals, how do you think they feel seeing that.


Come on You Rip Roaring Gunners

February 27, 2011

My first post for Arsenal Arsenal was just over a year ago and I sit today writing a Cup Final pre-match. What drought?

And what of this team that today can earn some silverware and stop the ludicrous carping from the media and a few of the fans? Why are we favourites to win a Cup for the first time in 6 years?

Cometh the time, Cometh the Man. And in this case it is Cometh the Men. Arsenal have moved forward as a club in a very short time and the sudden impact of 4 players has given the team a solidity not seen for many a year. Step forward Messrs Wilshere, Koscielny, Djourou and Szczesny. Suddenly we look solid at the back, and have a new and very young spine, one that can take us to glory.

In just a few games our problemic goalkeeping position has found a pillar of strength, our young Pole has shown against the differing attacks of Barca and Stoke that he is the real deal, and likely to be the Arsenal number One for at least a decade.

Djourou was written off by many, nicknamed Bambi for his ungainly style he has had a checkered injury filled career at Arsenal, but now, fully fit. he is established as the first name of the defensive teamsheet. His absence from the pitch at Newcastle led to 4 goals in 20 minutes – can anyone doubt that we would have won the game had he remained on the field? When Koscielny took the field in an Arsenal shirt I was one of many who questioned Mr Wenger’s signing. He looked lost, lacking in height and pace; yet here we are a mere 4 months later and he looks the real deal. I would even go so far as to say that Vermaelen will struggle to regain his place in the team. JD and Kos have an awesome record playing together, they have a fine understanding and both are just 23!! Probably the youngest CB pairing in the League.

And then there is Jack. What can be said that hasn’t been written? In half a season he has become an integral part of the team and forced two regular Internationals to become B teamers. He is always available for the ball when the defenders are under pressure, and with the ball at his feet is comfortable in the tightest situations. The man has genius.

And what of our other players who have improved beyond recognition? Samir Nasri has become a World Class player, a possible Player of the Year and a man who can mesmerise a defender, He can tackle, he can beat a player with pace, he can cross, shoot, pass with precision – he is a pleasure to watch. And he maintains the ability to give a sly dig which is essential in the hurly burly of the Premiership.

Van Persie is playing the best football of his career, Walcott has come of age, The full backs are back to the form they showed 2 seasons ago – Clichy was brilliant against Barca and Sagna has been strong all season.

Cesc is a big loss today, not because we cannot win without him but because if the game gets hairy, he is “the man”. Cesc has developed into the real leader of the team and I am very sad he will not have the opportunity to lead the side up the Wembley Steps. His injury leaves a midfield berth which I would give to Diaby, who is a more creative player than Denilson. He also has the height to cope with the inevitable Birmingham aerial bombardment.

Walcott’s absence opens a space for Bendtner. I like Nik, he always gives his all and despite not being the most elegant of players can be very effective, he is important when defending corners and set plays. Nik’s goal in the semi-final was as good as any seen at the Grove, and in his two appearances since he has had two assists. A goal and an assist would cement his place in the Arsenal fermament. However, Arshavin has been looking dangerous of late and we could play Nasri on the right with Arshavin on the left which allows us more movement than with the slightly ponderous Bendtner.

My team:

With Arshavin and Denilson coming on after 60 minutes

Birmingham are not a team studded with star players, they have lost the creativity of Hleb through injury and will look to play as a tight unit. They are clear underdogs. A midfield of Ferguson and Bowyer are sure to be combative. Should Birmingham win today it will be as a result of a huge team effort whereas we have the individual brilliance all over the pitch to win the game by having one player on fire.

One may wonder why I have used so few words on this Birmingham team. Truth is, I am bored by them – they are a reflection of their manager. Nothing more needs to be said.

The man who really deserves to win a trophy this season is our esteemed manager. Year after year he has had to listen to the same inane question about our lack silverware whilst delivering the best football seen in the Premiership week after week. Like Birmingham our team is a direct reflection of our manager, and I am very proud that our manager is Mr Arsene Wenger.

Birmingham is the birthplace of some of heavy metal’s stellar bands. The wondrous Judas Priest, Black Sabbath and the very Kings of Rock, Led Zeppelin all hail from Birmingham.

We are better than Birmingham in every department – it is a game for us to lose.

COYRRG

Written by BigRaddy


Carling Cup – Plan A will defeat Clan B

February 26, 2011

Written by ryandanielwood

It’s been almost as long as AFC have gone without a trophy since I last posted a feature on AA. I don’t know if that makes this post a case of perfect timing and fate, it probably doesn’t. I just can’t help but want to express myself whilst the Arsenal are on the brink of expressing themselves all the way to a little piece of history! Yeah…that’s definitely it!

And what a chapter in our grandest of club histories it could prove to be. After peeling myself off the ceiling from ARSE-BARCE Round 1, I’ve become a little partial to dreaming of a spectacular quadruple don’t y’know?. Come on, don’t roll your eyes now, it could happen. The Red and White machine has been blowing gaskets and valves over the past five seasons, and when the going’s been good, the tank has either run out of gas or the fragile underbelly has suffered from a lack of maintenance. What about if this year “The business end” of matters is met with a head of Ashburton steam!?

The first road block en-route to our clean sweep of glory is Alex “let the dogs off the leash“MacLeish. A managerial figure of Scottish steel, that would scare the living pants off me, if I wasn’t all to aware that his steel is nothing more than cheap economy knockoff compared to that of the Purple nosed nightmare further north.

His plans IMO will be to put the Blues through a fitness and determination cycle the likes of which can only be equalled by the famous montage from Rocky IV. He’ll also no doubt fill Bowyer’s head with one last Wembley hurrah, and a strict instruction to end an Arsenal career on the night.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Mcleish would love to play beautiful football to achieve results, evidence is suggested by some of his dips into the transfer market . A couple of Blues have even plied their trade in our corner at one time or another, but to put trust in Mcleish to play a fair strategy on CC final day, would be as foolhardy as ever putting your faith in Hleb or Bentley to remain loyal to a badge with a certain cannon on the front. Maybe it is unfair of me to question their integrity, but it seems as though they took it as a literal sign to move on from our club as if being shot from one!

So what of our own chances and tactics?

Well so good is our Plan A at this moment, it can overturn the best team in the world. So I’d go with that, wouldn’t you? “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” doesn’t really do our game plan the justice it truly deserves.

That said, We’ve been spectacular and underwhelming on all competitive fronts in equal measure this season, so caution will no doubt be rife at times.

In fact such an inconsistency in our league and at our level would usually see a club knocked out of at least two competitions by this juncture, if it weren’t for the fact that our telling difference this season, is that we truly don’t know when we’re beat. We are the EPL team that is snatching victory from the jaws of defeat on a regular basis. And I am confident it is that new acquisition of unshakable grit, that is convincing all that watch on, that the Arsenal have finally matured.

And if we are to win it all, after living so long with nothing at all,  it might even plant a seed of doubt in the mind of that smug git Xavi, that Cesc is not all but Barca bound.

COYRRG


Proof That Arsenal Are The Greatest Club The World Has Ever Seen

February 19, 2011

Form, as they say, is temporary. Class is permanent.

According to the form books, Barcelona are pretty good at the moment. And Chelsea have had a decent run over the last few years. Manchester United have had a great 20 years and we all know about the Liverpool heyday in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

But if you want a team and a club that has exuded pure, unadulterated class for its entire history then there’s only one: The Arsenal.

And here’s why:

Which team has spent the most consecutive seasons in the English top flight (90 years and counting)? ARSENAL

Which team holds the longest unbeaten sequence in the English top flight (49 games, from May 7th 2003 to October 16th 2004)? ARSENAL

Which team has the longest unbeaten away sequence in English league football (27 games, April 5th 2003 to September 25th 2004)? ARSENAL

Which team has the longest consecutive scoring run in league games in England (55 games from May 19th 2001 to November 30th 2002)? ARSENAL

Who scored the most away goals in an English league season (60 goals in 1930/31)? ARSENAL

Which team has scored the most goals in an English league season (127, in 1930/31)? ARSENAL

Which team has the record for most goals scored by a single player in an English top flight game (Ted Drake – seven goals away at Aston Villa, December 14th 1935)? ARSENAL

Which club holds the record for having the highest number if players in an England starting eleven (seven players, versus Italy in 1934)? ARSENAL

Which club has the highest attendance in English league football (83,260 for a game against Man Utd at Maine Road in 1948)? ARSENAL

Which team has featured in all three of the highest-attendance league games in English football? ARSENAL

Most away points in a top flight English season (47 in 2001/02)? ARSENAL

Most consecutive Champions League matches without conceding a goal (October 18th 2005 to April 26th 2006)? ARSENAL

First team to use numbers on the back of their shirts (1927)? ARSENAL

First team to play a match broadcast live on radio (versus Sheffield United, 1927)? ARSENAL

First team to play in a match broadcast live on TV (versus Arsenal reserves, 1937)? ARSENAL

First team to play a match broadcast live in 3D (versus Man Utd, January 31st 2010)? ARSENAL

There you have it.

The Arsenal is not just a club with history.

It’s a club that writes history, shapes history and makes history.

Others may have their moments in the sun, but only one side has endured in such a way for such a long time.

I look at the supporters of all other teams and feel only pity.

So thank whichever God watches over you (or if you ascribe to the new religion of Dawkinism, thank the mindless tinkering of the blind watchmaker) for one simple fact:

You are lucky enough to have been BORN TO SUPPORT THE ARSENAL.

RockyLives


Have Arsenal progressed at all this season?

January 27, 2011

Something about this website has been bugging me for a while. It’s a very welcome home for Arsenal-oriented debate, and the regulars here are great, all bringing something different to our little party. And the format is excellent, with contributions coming from that group of regulars, meaning one voice doesn’t dominate.

So what’s been bugging me then?

It’s that “Points total” table over on the right-hand side, just below the bit about “Our day will come again” (which it will). I like the fact that the table is there, it provides a little bit of information not routinely available elsewhere. But when I’ve glanced at it this season, more often than not we’ve had fewer points than at the same stage last season. That doesn’t exactly suggest progress, does it?

I’ve been reassuring myself that this is a strange season, that all the title contenders have failed to achieve consistency, that they’re all misfiring, so no need to worry that we appear not to be doing quite as well in crude terms of the number of points bagged. But is that right? I decided to run some figures (yup, I really am that sad), comparing the standings of each of the top five with their position at the same point (in terms of games played) last season. Here are the results:

Man United
Now: 51 points from 23 games
Last year: 50 points

Arsenal
Now: 46 points from 23 games
Last year: 49 points

Man City
Now: 45 points from 24 games
Last year: 44 points

Chelsea
Now: 41 points from 23 games
Last year: 54 points

Spurs
Now: 38 points from 23 games
Last year: 41 points

The stand-out fact from these figures is the collapse in Chelsea’s form; a 13-point fall in one season is appalling in anyone’s books, let alone for the self-styled would-be world beaters. They had a run of 11 games in which they collected just 10 points, a run that has all but destroyed their title hopes.

Beyond that, a few other things emerge: the two Manchester clubs are pretty much where they were last season, being just one point up each. United’s unbeaten run needs to be judged in that context – at this point last year, they had already lost five games, so turning that into zero looks very impressive. But they’ve become draw maniacs; a one-point improvement on last season sounds a lot less impressive than the media’s much loved undefeated United, especially bearing in mind that United have had their easiest fixtures in the first half of the season and have tough games stacked up in March and April. They are annoyingly but rightly renowned for being strong in the second half of the season. The test will be whether a side built on Ferdinand and Vidic can reach those heights this year.

City could still end up winning the league, but so far their one-point improvement on last year looks a pretty pathetic return on the Abu Dhabi United Group’s enormous, gross investment. They’ll argue they’re a work in progress, but the question has to be asked: where’s the improvement?

And then there are the North London clubs. (Spurs are still North London club, aren’t they?) Both are three points down on this stage last season. That may not sound like much but it’s a significant difference, one neither side can be proud of. For Spurs, there’s no surprise, they’re having to cope with juggling CL and EPL football for the first time, and as Harry has said this week, it was a miracle they finished fourth last season, so a decline for the contenders’ weakest side shouldn’t shock anyone.

But what about us? We’re all feeling buoyant after the dominant performance against Wigan (shame we didn’t cash in on the goals though) and getting to the League Cup Final. We’ve not conceded a league goal for four games, Nasri, van Persie and Fabregas are on fire, and we are looking to have overcome blips in the domestic cups with a rejuvenated and relatively injury-free squad, so it all feels good. And so it should. But the fact is we are three points down on the same point last season, and before the Wigan game, that difference was five points. Just as United’s season is often marked by an improvement at this stage, so our performance often falls away in the home straight. Last season, United won 12 of their last 16 games, dropping just 8 points along the way. By comparison, we dropped 21 points in our last 16 games, completely losing pace with Chelsea and United as a result.

I’m often accused of being over-optimistic about Arsenal, and of showing excessive faith in Wenger. But on this occasion, with our side in danger of realising its potential, I want to add a note of caution. We really need the players to concentrate from here on. No more two-goal leads thrown away (or one-goal leads come to that), no more defeats extracted from the jaws of victory, no more dropping points against the lesser sides, no more home defeats, we had enough of that in 2010, on both sides of the summer break. With Chelsea collapsing, United retreating into their shell, City stymied by internal division and change and Spurs dealing with their biggest challenge to date, this season could have been much easier for us than it has been; it wouldn’t have taken much for us to have accumulated much more than 46 points to date, just more focus and concentration. But the failures of the first half of the season mean we’re now under much more pressure than we needed to have been, and we need to respond positively to that pressure.

I remain an optimist, I believe we’ll be fighting United toe-to-toe until the end of the season (making our home game against them massive). My comments might be read as being negative or pessimistic; in fact, I make these points because I consider our squad to be the best in terms of talent, bar none, in English football. I (like Wenger and all other Gooners) just want them to go out and show it, not in flashes but in sustained runs of victories. The frustration is we haved ceded control of this season to the weakest United side in years when we could have dominated.

We still have what it takes to prevail over all four of our rivals, and even to give the best side in the world, Barca, a run for their money in the CL. We just need the players to take each and every game seriously.

Written by 26may1989